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Problems in Angel/Willow Fanfiction
by Evette - No-Hero.org

The pairing of Willow and Angel has a reputation in fandom, and it isn't always a pleasant one. The kind of reputation that causes people to hit their back buttons so fast it breaks their computer when they stumble across the pairing in fic. Angel/Willow fanfiction is often plagued by bad characterization and painful clichés. Yet, they are still a pairing with lots of potential if a writer is willing to take the time and do the work.

The characters have some definite parallels in canon. Both Angel and Willow have guilt issues and a very heavy sense of responsibility. Both of them have issues with demanding parents and never feeling good enough. They are both massive control freaks that assume they know what is best for everyone. Angel has twice altered the universe in order to do what he thinks is best. Willow performed memory charms on her friends and lover in order to make them feel the way she wanted. After season six, Willow understands the guilt of being a murder and the fear of losing control. Willow often sticks up for Angel in the early seasons of Buffy, even after Angel turns to *into* Angelus in season two. She insists on trying to get his soul back. This has little to do with Willow's deep secret love for Angel, but rather he*r* need to have her idealized version of Buffy and Angel's romance work out.

One of the biggest problems in Willow/Angel fic is with the characterization. It is important to remember who Willow and Angel are and how they would react to each other romantically. Angel was in love with Buffy (and later Cordelia); he wasn't secretly wanting Willow to be his girlfriend. Willow loved Oz and Tara, and since late season four on she self identifies as a lesbian. She would not suddenly denounce the girl loving because she's been secretly lusting after Angel since day one. Willow and Angel together would be full of complications, so think hard about how they've behaved in canon. Take small steps from there in order to make this rather unconventional couple work. Ask how they would get together? How do they feel about their relationship? How do those around them react to their relationship?

That last question is another sticking point in a lot of Angel/Willow fiction. Many times the Scoobies and Angel Investigations are thrown wildly out of character in order to make Angel and Willow's relationship easier or more dramatic. Buffy might be confused and hurt, but she is loyal to her friends and wouldn't want to kill Willow for being with Angel. Much of how Buffy will react to an Angel/Willow relationship depends on how the couple came together and the time period. Buffy always displays jealous tendencies about Angel, but she would probably attempt to balance this with her loyalty to her friends. The same thing goes for those at AI, they aren't going to shun Angel for touching sweet little innocent Willow.

Use the parallels and personalities already given in canon to bring the characters together. They have guilt! They have issues! Maybe Willow thinks Angel can better understand what she's feeling Post-"Grave" and she goes to him looking for help and things happen? Maybe after Buffy's death*,* Angel is in Sunnydale and confused and in their grief Willow and Angel strike up a relationship filled with unresolved sexual tension and longing. Relying on things like "they were really in love all along!" is an easy out that makes for out-of-character fanfic. Try to find new and interesting things to say about Angel and Willow through your story. I've read far too many Angel/Willow fics and thus far the only thing I've learned is "Angel and Willow are quite pretty". Well, I already I knew that. Tell your reader something new and interesting about the characters you love; that's what makes the beginnings of a good story.

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